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Redskins Depth Chart Review: Is running back the strongest group on the offense?

Redskins Depth Chart Review: Is running back the strongest group on the offense?

On a projected 53-man roster loaded with question marks, the Redskins running back group actually presents some strong options. 

Redskins Depth Chart Reviews: QuarterbackTight end | Wide Receiver

He might not steal the headlines going into training camp, but Adrian Peterson proved he can still get the job done in a 2018 season where he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and more than four yards-per-carry in 16 games. Peterson was the Redskins best offensive player in 2018, and the team re-signed him this offseason because of his impact on the field and the locker room last year.

At 34-years-old it might sound crazy, but Peterson might be the most dependable Redskins offensive player. Based on his play last year, if he gets the same amount of carries and offensive activity, it seems a reasonable proposition he could produce at the same levels. That can't be said for many other players in Burgundy and Gold. 

That doesn't mean there isn't more talent at the running back position. 

Chris Thompson has proven his ability in parts of the last four seasons, though injuries have been a persistent issue for the third-down back. Last year, Thompson played in just 10 games, though he averaged more than five yards-per-touch when he was on the field. Washington head coach Jay Gruden trusts Thompson in pressure situations, and not just for his ability with the ball in his hands, but because he's tremendous in pass protection.

Then there's the wild card: Derrius Guice. 

This time last year, Guice was the story of the Redskins 2018 offseason. An elite talent at LSU, he slipped in the draft to the second round, and the Redskins selected him to shore up their run game. 

He looked great during OTAs and training camp, but injured his knee in the second preseason game in New England. Peterson was signed after that as Guice went through surgery, a post-surgery infection, and now continues to rehab his injured knee. 

Here's the thing though: Guice looks great. He's posted numerous videos and pictures on social media during his recovery and looks ready to go. The Redskins need to be very smart bringing Guice back, both to maximize his impact in 2019 but also for the future. 

If Guice is all the way back this season, the Redskins could have a dynamic run game. The team should use Peterson, Guice and Thompson in significant roles, and keep fresh legs with both the more traditional backs and spell them with speed and pass catching ability on third down. 

The conversation doesn't end there. 

Washington added Stanford RB Bryce Love in the fourth round of the draft. He's an electric playmaker, but he injured his knee late last year. He seems likely to open the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but could potentially join the squad in the second half of the 2019 season. 

Don't forget about Samaje Perine, either. At the NFL League Meetings in Arizona, Gruden spent about five minutes talking up the former University of Oklahoma star.

"Samaje has not gotten the opportunities, I'm upset about that, it's my fault. But I have not given up on Samaje," Gruden said. "He's young, he's strong, he's physical. I need to see him take that next step and I got to give him that opportunity to do that. It's going to be hard with Guice and AP in there to get him the ball, but he deserves an opportunity to get the ball, and I got to figure out a way to get him the ball."

What makes Gruden's soliloquy a bit weird is that Perine was only active in five games last season. He had eight carries. Let it be noted too Gruden's comments came before the team selected Love in the draft. The Redskins also retained Byron Marshall's rights in restricted free agency. He made the team last year before an immediate shift to the injured reserve, and while Gruden seems to like him, his most memorable moments from the 2018 season aren't on the highlight reel. He missed a tackle on a punt return touchdown in Jacksonville, and worse than that, missed a block on the play that saw Alex Smith break his leg.

The Redskins have kept four running backs out of camp the last two seasons, but with an increased need on keeping three quarterbacks, it will be much harder to load up in the backfield. 

Peterson, Guice and Thompson are roster locks. If all three stay healthy, that trio sounds like the most talented position group on the Redskins offense. 


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Redskins sign former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to boost secondary

Redskins sign former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to boost secondary

The Redskins signed former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to a one-year contract on Sunday.

Darby, a second-round pick by the Bills in 2015 who played college ball at Florida State, grabbed six interceptions in three years playing in Philadelphia but dealt with major injuries throughout his time there, including an ACL tear in 2018. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Washington needed to sign another cornerback after trading away disgruntled CB Quinton Dunbar last week.

With the new addition, expect the Redskins to let Kendall Fuller start on one side of the field and Darby and fourth-year pro Fabian Moreau compete for the starting spot on the other side of the defense. Jimmy Moreland projects as the inside slot corner.

The money on this deal won’t break the bank for the Redskins, but with two corners added in free agency and significantly more cash spent on Fuller, the Redskins 2020 secondary is starting to come into shape.

Washington probably feels somewhat comfortable with Fuller, Darby, Moreau and Moreland and will likely draft another corner in April. The team also signed Sean Davis from Pittsburgh with the intention to pair him with stalwart Landon Collins at the two safety spots.

For Redskins fans pushing for a reunion with former draft pick Bashaud Breeland, the Darby signing could end that possibility. Team sources said for weeks that Breeland wasn’t a strong consideration anyway.

Interestingly, Washington has now signed three defensive free agents in the secondary all with local ties. Darby grew up in Oxon Hill and played at Potomac High, Fuller went to Good Counsel High School and Davis grew up in D.C.

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Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': This scene is a prime example of Ron Rivera's integrity

Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': This scene is a prime example of Ron Rivera's integrity

Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here's his review of episode six, "That's How Football Works."

When an NFL team fires a head coach, they almost always try to move on like they're closing an Internet tab; just hit the 'X', get rid of the window and move on.

But when the Panthers parted ways with Ron Rivera last December, it was a totally different process. Rivera held a 30-minute press conference after the news broke. Veterans labeled it the worst day they had ever been a part of in the league. He even came back to the area a few months later to hold a yard sale, which ended up acting as a goodbye event that 3,000 people attended.

Yes, the coach was very successful during his tenure with the Panthers, but that kind of send-off doesn't happen for someone just because of division titles and a Super Bowl appearance. Those kinds of farewells are reserved for the people who are revered for their integrity, character and impact on everything, not just their impact on the field.

And in episode six of Amazon's 2018 edition of All Or Nothing, viewers were shown an example of what separates Rivera from most who share his position in the sport.

The early part of this installment focuses on Devin Funchess' inconsistent season and includes a flashback to an earlier practice where the receiver confronts then-QBs coach Scott Turner for being too slow with his play calling. 

After that incident, Funchess, Rivera and Turner step away to hash things out, at which point Funchess reveals his cousin had been killed the week before and the funeral had just taken place. Funchess apologizes repeatedly for his behavior. Turner then hugs him and does his best to calm him down.

Rivera, though, wants to take more time with the wideout to further talk to him and show his support. So, he brings Funchess to a bench, sits him down and puts his arm around him for an emotional one-on-one.

"I don't know what you're going through, but I can feel for you, all right?" Rivera says. "I appreciate you sharing that with both Scotty and I right now."

"If you ever have situations like that or something like that, you need to talk about stuff like that," he continues. "You know you can always talk to me all right?"

A few seconds and a few more encouraging remarks later, the two stand up, with Funchess returning to action and Rivera walking slowly behind him. Just before the scene ends, the latter sighs and appears to wipe a tear away.

In a show filled with crunching tackles and slow-motion touchdowns laid under triumphant music, this quiet exchange was easily one of its more powerful moments. It also was all one needs to see to understand why so many in Carolina were so affected when Rivera was fired.

So much about being a winner on the sidelines in the NFL is about schemes and creativity and strategy and risk-taking. But relating to players and supporting them and earning their trust is arguably more crucial than any system or depth chart decision ever could be.

Rivera's interaction with Funchess was a strong illustration of that second point. The Redskins aren't just getting an impressive coach; they're getting an impressive person. He's going to look out for his roster in every way, and in turn, that roster will likely do all it can for him.

Links to past reviews:

Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits

Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions

Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron

Episode 4: Young Redskins will have a chance in 2020

Episode 5: Rivera goes off, and you'll want to see it